TALLINN - Listed Estonian renewable energy company Enefit Green, a subsidiary of the state-owned energy company Eesti Energia, said that the Defense Ministry's restriction on the construction of solar parks stemming from national defense reasons will significantly hinder the creation of new renewable energy capacities in East-Viru County if the restriction remains in effect permanently and no mitigation measures are provided.
BNS reported last Friday that the Ministry of Defense is not giving its nod to the establishment of solar parks that reduce radio system performance. The restriction mainly concerns areas in northeastern and southeastern Estonia, whereas the construction of solar parks is significantly simpler elsewhere in the country.
Spokespeople for the Ministry of Defense told BNS that the construction of solar parks in the restricted area of the radio system, that is in the radio silence zone, will increase the level of radio-frequency background radiation, which will reduce the reception distance of received radio signals. In the restricted area, electromagnetic background radiation shall be kept to a minimum.
"The restrictions disclosed by the Ministry of Defense affect Enefit Green's ambition to establish solar parks first and foremost in northeastern Estonia, where the potential for creating solar parks is the greatest," head of renewable energy developments and services department at Enefit Green Raido Hallik told BNS.
Hallik explained there is a historically strong electricity network in East-Viru County and the region includes numerous areas where mining activities have previously been conducted, thus the properties lack any agricultural value and could be used for building solar parks.
The restrictions direct new projects towards central and western Estonia, however, where the power network capacities are much smaller.
"It means that development projects must be planned in areas where additional investments may be needed for network reinforcements," Hallik noted.
He added that the Ministry of Defense has not disclosed to developers if the restriction is of a temporary or permanent nature
"It is also unknown if there are any mitigation measures that would ensure national defense interests while enabling to develop renewable energy," he said, adding that he very much hopes that a solution exists that is suitable for both parties.
The Ministry of Defense has an obligation to ensure the military defense of the Estonian state and therefore the ministry cannot grant approval to any facility that could reduce the state's defense capability. Therefore, the Ministry of Defense cannot approve the construction of solar parks that reduce the performance of the radio system and are an important part of Estonia's early warning.
The problem of radiation noise arises in the large-scale production of electricity and in solar parks with a capacity of more than 100 kilowatts (kW), therefore their construction in the restricted area must be approved by the Ministry of Defense, which may ban such projects for national defense purposes.
No obstacles arise from solar parks with a capacity of up to 25 kW that produce power for household consumption.
The ministry emphasized that developers have the opportunity to consult with the Ministry of Defense before making plans in order to get an overview of whether the solar park to be built falls within the restricted area.